I little while ago NinjaTim, in the comments to Challenge Dave #4, asked which Pompey player played at Fratton Park on the afternoon of his wedding day.
Rug liked the question at the time and it has now come to the top of the pile.
The answer is Ray Crawford on 12th April 1958 he got married in the morning played on the left wing against Blackpool in the afternoon and returned to his wedding reception in the evening. The low point of the day was that Pompey lost 2-1 with the late Derek Dougan scoring the Blues’ goal. Pompey were in a run of just one point from the final six games and narrowly avoided relegation from the First Division – a fate that was only deferred by one year.
This was Ray’s debut season and it was successful for him too playing 18 games and netting 9 goals. Ray was a rarity in Pompey’s history because he was born in Portsmouth (in 1936). He signed as a youngster in December 1954 and had to wait until the start of the 1957/58 season to make his debut in a goalless draw with Burnley. Four days later he scored his first Pompey goals netting two in a 5-1 Fratton win over Tottenham.
Ray’s career at Fratton was soon be over as after just two starts in August 1958 he was sold to Ipswich Town and replaced in the Pompey team by another legend, a certain Ron Saunders.
Whereas Pompey’s decline was just about to begin with the slip to Division Three by 1961, Crawford’s would go completely in the other direction. Ipswich Town were fresh out of Third Division (South) and managed by a certain Alf Ramsey when they sprang to prominence winning the Second Division in 1960/61 and incredibly the First Division in 1961/62 at the first time of asking. Ray’s scoring feats with partner Ted Phillips leading the way. In the 1961/62 season they scored 61 goals between them Ray being the league’s top scorer with 33. Pompey were at the same time winning the Third Division title.
In two spells at Ipswich Crawford played 320 games and scored an incredible 204 goals. His other clubs were Wolves, West Brom, Charlton and Colchester where he scored twice as the U’s beat mighty Leeds United 3-2 in the 1971 FA Cup. Another little known fact about Ray was when he scored a hat-trick for Colchester against Ringmer he became the first man to score trebles in four major competitions – FA Cup, League Cup, Football League (8) and European Cup.
In 2003 Ray was invited by Ipswich to unveil a statue of Sir Alf Ramsey at Portman Road.
Ray was a guest at the Reading game last month and still lives and works locally. He is known to my son and I am hoping that in the future I may be able to meet Ray, who I know still loves his football to this day and have a chat over a cup of tea. This could no doubt lead to further articles on the game over the last 50 years especially as Ray worked with some great managers during his career other than Alf Ramsey.
One last point going back to the question, I attended my brothers first wedding in April 1973 and after the ceremony I dashed the short distance to Fratton Park to make the second half of the Pompey game. I got in the through the little gate in the Fratton End turnstile and joined by friends in the huge gate of 6,768. In the first minute of the second half Ray Hiron scored the games only goal – apparently he had been waiting for me – and after the game it was off to the reception. Never made the photos.
Oh I forgot to mention the opposition it was – yes you’ve guessed it – Blackpool!! Coincidences are strange.
Written by eastneydave.
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